AP News in Brief at 12:04 a.m. EDT


North Korea: New long-range missile can carry heavy nuke

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Monday the missile it launched over the weekend was a new type of “medium long-range” ballistic rocket that can carry a heavy nuclear warhead. A jubilant leader Kim Jong Un promised more nuclear and missile tests and warned that North Korean weapons could strike the U.S. mainland and Pacific holdings.

North Korean propaganda must be considered with wariness — Pyongyang has threatened for decades to reduce Seoul to a “sea of fire,” for instance — but Monday’s claim, if confirmed, would mark another big advance toward the North’s goal of fielding a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. Some experts, including officials in Tokyo, estimate that Sunday’s launch successfully tested a new type of missile in Pyongyang’s arsenal.

The test is also an immediate challenge to South Korea’s new leader, Moon Jae-in, a liberal elected last week who expressed a desire to reach out to North Korea. Pyongyang’s aggressive push to boost its weapons program also makes it one of the Trump administration’s most urgent foreign policy worries, though Washington has struggled to settle on a policy.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency called the missile a “new ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rocket,” and said the “Hwasong-12” was “capable of carrying a large, heavy nuclear warhead.” Kim Jong Un witnessed the test and “hugged officials in the field of rocket research, saying that they worked hard to achieve a great thing,” according to KCNA.

The rocket, “newly designed in a Korean-style,” flew 787 kilometers (490 miles) and reached a maximum altitude of 2,111.5 kilometers (1,310 miles), the North said, and “verified the homing feature of the warhead under the worst re-entry situation and accurate performance of detonation system.”

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Log in, look out: Cyber chaos may grow at workweek’s start

LONDON (AP) — Employees booting up computers at work Monday could see red as they discover they’re victims of a global “ransomware” cyberattack that has created chaos in 150 countries and could wreak even greater havoc as more malicious variations appear.

As a loose global network of cybersecurity experts fought the ransomware hackers, officials and experts on Sunday urged organizations and companies to update older Microsoft operating systems immediately to ensure they aren’t vulnerable to a more powerful version of the software — or to future versions that can’t be stopped.

The initial attack, known as “WannaCry,” paralyzed computers that run Britain’s hospital network, Germany’s national railway and scores of other companies and government agencies worldwide in what was believed to be the biggest online extortion scheme so far.

Microsoft blamed the U.S. government for “stockpiling” software code that was used by unknown hackers to launch the attacks. The hackers exploited software code from the National Security Agency that leaked online.

The company’s top lawyer said the government should report weaknesses they discover to software companies rather than seek to exploit them.

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Clapper: US govt ‘under assault’ by Trump after Comey firing

WASHINGTON (AP) — American democracy is “under assault” on separate fronts from President Donald Trump and Russia, the former U.S. intelligence chief warned Sunday, expressing dismay over the abrupt firing of FBI director James Comey amid a probe into Moscow’s meddling in U.S. elections and possible ties with the Trump campaign.

As Trump works to fast-track Comey’s successor, lawmakers from both parties urged him to steer clear of any politicians for the job and say he must “clean up the mess that he mostly created.”

“I think, in many ways, our institutions are under assault, both externally — and that’s the big news here, is the Russian interference in our election system,” said James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence. “I think as well our institutions are under assault internally.”

When he was asked, “Internally, from the president?” Clapper said, “Exactly.”

Clapper spoke following Trump’s sudden firing of Comey last week, which drew sharp criticism because it came amid the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Clapper said America’s founding fathers had created three co-equal branches of government with checks and balances, but with Trump as president, that was now “eroding.”

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GOP lawmakers mark success by flipping rules from Obama era

WASHINGTON (AP) — Final score: Republicans 14, Barack Obama’s last-minute regulations, one.

Congressional Republicans anxious to show voters they can get something done are hailing their reversal of more than a dozen Obama-era regulations on guns, the internet and the environment.

Over a few months, lawmakers used an obscure legislative rule to ram through changes that will have far-reaching implications for the coal industry, broadband customers, hunters and women seeking health care at Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

The deadline for scuttling the rules that Democrat Obama imposed during his final months in office was last Thursday. The 1996 Congressional Review Act had given Republicans the power to make the changes with a simple majority, within a set time.

While the rest of Washington focused on the furor over President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, Republicans were celebrating their effort to reverse the rules, arguing that it would boost the economy and make it easier for businesses to operate.

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New York eyes ‘textalyzer’ to combat distracted driving

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Ben Lieberman just wanted to find out what may have caused the head-on collision that killed his 19-year-old son, Evan, on a highway north of New York City. It took a lawsuit and six months in court to get the cellphone records showing the driver of the car his son was in had been texting behind the wheel.

Lieberman doesn’t believe getting that information should be so hard.

He’s channeling his grief over the 2011 accident into a proposal that would allow police at accident scenes in New York to immediately examine drivers’ cellphones with a device to determine if they’d been tapping, swiping or clicking. It’s been called a Breathalyzer for texting.

“You think people are already looking at phones and it just doesn’t happen,” said Lieberman, who is partnering with the Israel-based tech company Cellebrite to develop the plug-in device that’s been nicknamed the “textalyzer.”

The idea already faces obstacles from constitutional and privacy advocates who are quick to note that police need the owner’s consent and a warrant to get cellphone records. They’re also concerned such technology would be used to access all of the personal information people may have on their cellphones.

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More states allow sunscreen at schools without doctor’s OK

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Susan Grenon makes sure her son is lathered with sunscreen before he leaves for school in the morning, but the fair-skinned 10-year-old can’t bring a bottle to reapply it without a doctor’s note.

Many school systems categorize sunscreen as an over-the-counter medication requiring special paperwork, but several states have been pushing to loosen restrictions to make it easier for kids to protect themselves from skin cancer.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, signed a bill into law this month allowing students to use sunscreen at school without notes from a doctor and parent. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, enacted a similar measure late last month, following Utah in March. Oregon, Texas and New York have also freed students to use sunscreen in recent years. California did it back in 2002.

Backed by the personal care products industry, such proposals also have wide and bipartisan support from health experts and state lawmakers. Legislation is moving forward this spring in Rhode Island and Louisiana. In Florida, it’s waiting for the governor’s signature. The main opposition has come from school nurses voicing caution about children bringing in lotions that can cause allergic reactions.

Grenon, who lives in Smithfield, Rhode Island, said her concerns for her son grew after a doctor excised two basal cell carcinomas from her face in February, and another one three years ago. Grenon said she is paying the price for never using sunscreen while growing up as a military kid in sunny climates such as Hawaii and Nevada.

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Miss District of Columbia wins 2017 edition of Miss USA

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The District of Columbia has won back-to-back Miss USA titles.

Kara McCullough, a 25-year-old chemist working for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, was crowned Sunday at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on the Las Vegas Strip. She will go on to compete on the Miss Universe contest.

The runner-up was Miss New Jersey Chhavi Verg, a student at Rutgers University studying marketing and Spanish. The second runner-up was Miss Minnesota Meridith Gould, who is studying apparel retail merchandising at the University of Minnesota.

Fifty-one women representing each state and the nation’s capital participated in the decades-old competition.

McCullough was born in Naples, Italy, and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She said she wants to inspire children to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

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‘Deadwood’ actor Powers Booth dies at 68

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Powers Boothe, the character actor known for his villain roles in TV’s “Deadwood,” and in the movies “Tombstone,” ”Sin City” and “The Avengers,” has died. He was 68.

Boothe’s publicist says he died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles Sunday.

Beau Bridges tweeted the news and called him “a dear friend, great actor, devoted father and husband.”

The veteran actor won an Emmy award in 1980 for playing cult leader Jim Jones in the TV movie “Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones.” He also had memorable roles playing the ruthless saloon owner Cy Tolliver in “Deadwood,” the gunman Curly Bill Brocius in “Tombstone” and the corrupt senator in “Sin City.”

A private service will be held in Texas where he was from.

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Jeter’s No 2 retired by Yanks; Monument Park plaque unveiled

NEW YORK (AP) — Derek Jeter held a microphone and spoke without notes to the crowd that filled sold-out Yankee Stadium. His No. 2, the last of the single digit pinstripes, had been retired and a plaque in his honor dedicated that will be placed in Monument Park alongside tributes to Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra and the rest of the team’s greats.

“There isn’t a person or player I would trade places with that’s playing now or ever,” he told the fans.

Three years removed from a big league career that spanned 1995-2014, Jeter personally picked Mother’s Day for his tribute. His grandmother, parents, sister, nephew and pregnant wife joined him for the ceremony, and he laughed when he saw the plaque , which reads “DEREK SANDERSON JETER/’THE CAPTAIN’/”MR. NOVEMBER'” and goes on to call him “THE CORNERSTONE OF FIVE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS” AND “A LEADER ON THE FIELD AND IN THE CLUBHOUSE, SETTING AN EXAMPLE FOR HIS TEAMMATES WITH HIS UNCOMPROMISING DESIRE FOR TEAM SUCCESS.”

Jeter recalled flashing back to the plaques of teammates Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte unveiled in recent years.

“When Bernie got his, he had the big mole. When Jorge had his, he had the big ears. Andy had the big nose. So I was happy with mine,” Jeter said.

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Merkel’s party wins election in rivals’ German heartland

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives won a state election Sunday in their center-left rivals’ traditional heartland, a stinging blow to the challenger in September’s national vote.

The western state of North Rhine-Westphalia is Germany’s most populous and has been led by the center-left Social Democrats for all but five years since 1966.

It is also the home state of Martin Schulz, the Social Democrat seeking to deny Merkel a fourth term in the Sept. 24 election. Schulz was hoping for a boost after two previous state election defeats sapped his party’s momentum.

Instead, Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union won 33 percent of the vote in the election for the state legislature, with the Social Democrats trailing on 31.2 percent.

Social Democrat governor Hannelore Kraft’s coalition lost its majority as her junior governing partners, the Greens, took only 6.4 percent. Conservative challenger Armin Laschet, a deputy leader of Merkel’s party, was set to replace Kraft.